Victoria Promenade pilot project problematic for some area residents

The City of Edmonton is moving forward on a pilot project for the Victoria Promenade to create what it says will be a “more accessible space.”

Current plans involve removing parking and having a separate bike lane in each direction on the north and south side.

It means a loss of about 20 parking spaces along the north side of the promenade — five are designated as loading zones — and some residents are unhappy with this change.

Read more: Edmonton begins to open shared streets, mobility lanes for 2021 season

“We wouldn’t have any place for us to park when our guests come,” Lorraine McBain said, who lives on Victoria Promenade.

“We don’t like it — none of us do — so we had a petition put up. Every condo had a petition and now we are going to present it to the city and see where we go from there.”

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There’s hope the city will leave room for adjustments.

“My primary concern other than parking is the potential for conflict with all of the driveways and the intersections,” area resident Colleen Stepney said.

Access to buildings is also a big concern according to area residents, especially for emergency vehicles and those with mobility issues.

“We’d like to see it developed in a way that increases access to the area,” Stepney said.

The city said Victoria Promenade is an important part of its Active Transportation Plan, but not all existing bike routes meet its standards.

“Due to high vehicle traffic and speeds, Victoria Promenade has been identified as a substandard bike route that needs upgrades to accommodate cyclists of all ages and abilities,” Jessica Lamarre, director of Safe Mobility with the City of Edmonton, said in a statement.

Click to play video: 'Edmonton begins to open shared streets and mobility lanes' Edmonton begins to open shared streets and mobility lanes

Edmonton begins to open shared streets and mobility lanes – Apr 16, 2021

Over the last two years, mobility lanes were installed as part of a city-wide project to comply with COVID-19 distancing guidelines.

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“Based on the feedback received in 2020 and 2021, narrowing the road on Victoria Promenade helped reduce speeds and supported street safety and livability,” Lamarre explained. “However, there was frustration with the look and movability of the cones, as well as confusion about directionality and how to use the mobility lane while cycling.

“Given this feedback, the city is exploring using adaptable infrastructure to make the corridor safer and more welcoming and accessible for all ages and abilities. This would allow Edmontonians to test out data-driven, research-based concepts designed to build a more livable city.”

In March and April, the city said it gathered feedback on four proposed options for this project.

Several area residents, however, felt there wasn’t enough initial consultation done.

“We are not against the bike trail,” McBain said. “Just double (the south bike lane) going every direction and leave the parking here for us.”

“We are hoping for some adjustments to the plan,” Stepney added.

Ward O-day’min Coun. Anne Stevenson said she understands the concerns and is in the process of talking with the community and city staff to consider options.

“When I first looked at this I thought, ‘of course, it’s a no-brainer. We should have a bi-directional lane on the south side of the promenade — it would make so much more sense. You would have the bike lanes, parking and a travel lane — everyone wins,’” Stevenson told Global News Wednesday.

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Ultimately, she said it was not a “workable solution.”

Read more: Edmonton opens some streets to cars, cyclists and pedestrians amid COVID-19 pandemic

She acknowledged residents didn’t feel like they had adequate notice or opportunity to be involved in the decision-making process.

“The most important thing to remember is this is a pilot project and I actually think this could be a good opportunity to see how this works before anything permanent gets put in,” Stevenson said.

Residents are being encouraged to be diligent in tracking their experience to provide feedback to the city come fall.

Stevenson noted the work to make the changes will take about 10 days and start in early July.

“Victoria Promenade is an often used bicycle route for folks and right now there’s only one painted on bike lane in one direction,” she said.

“This is about enhancing those facilities there we know are well used by cyclists and pedestrians to make safer more accessible transportation options.”

The city noted full information on the project will be shared publicly next week.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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